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Lives of Doctor Wives: DO, AOA, AAOA: Osteopathy in a Nutshell

Friday, February 7, 2014

DO, AOA, AAOA: Osteopathy in a Nutshell

DO, AOA, AAOA:  Osteopathy in a Nutshell
by Tiffany Sweeney

The year was 2004.  My husband was applying to medical schools and I began to become more educated on the life that we were about to embark on.  The very first lesson was the difference between allopathic and osteopathic medicine.  Many of those in the general population are not aware of the difference between the two.  In fact, as we have progressed through our journey in osteopathic medicine, I have also come to discover that there is also a large handful within the field of medicine that is not completely familiar with the differences.

When most people think of a doctor, they associate him/her with M.D. and the well-known American Medical Association (AMA).  However, the physician treating you may instead be a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) and represented by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).  According to a report distributed in May 2010, 7% of physicians in the United States were practicing osteopathic physicians.  In more recent numbers, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine indicates that more than 20 percent of medical students today are training to become Doctors of Osteopathy.  Osteopathic physicians have the same exact practice rights as their allopathic counterparts and can be found in every single specialty of medicine.   The question then is what makes DOs different from MDs.

Let’s refer to the American Osteopathic Association website to answer this question . . . 

DOs receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system – your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that makes up two-thirds of your body mass.  This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of how an illness or injury in one part of your body can affect other parts.

Osteopathic medical students do have additional training in what is called OMT or Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment.  Referring back to the American Osteopathic Association for definitions . . .

Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated into the training and practice of osteopathic physicians.  With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose illness and injury and to encourage your body’s natural tendency toward good health.  By combining all other available medical options with OMT, DOs offer their patients the most comprehensive care available in medicine today.

DOs also tend to focus on primary care as well as preventative care.  Despite the differences, here are a few tidbits when discussing allopathic and osteopathic care . . .

·         MDs and DOs work side-by-side in caring for patients!
·         DOs can actually be accepted into allopathic internships and residencies, but MDs are NOT eligible for osteopathic programs due to the lack of training in OMT.
·         ALL medical students must pass comparable board exams . . . DOs take the COMLEX, MDs take the USMLE.  It is also not uncommon to see osteopathic students taking BOTH exams if they intend to apply to allopathic residency programs (though this is not always required).
·         ALL medical students complete 4 years of medical school and complete comparable training in all specialties.

For additional information on the field of osteopathy, what the AOA is doing for the field, and much, much more, I recommend that you visit the American Osteopathic Association website. 

As for the Lives of Doctor Wives readers, there is a partner organization that you may find a particular interest in:  Advocates for the American Osteopathic Association (AAOA).    This organization is for any and all individuals who support and promote the osteopathic profession, including spouses, partners, colleagues, and more.  They are here to educate, encourage, and assist both those in the osteopathic profession as well as those who are supporting them, from the early years of medical school all the way to retirement and beyond.  In fact, the AAOA has created two specialty groups that are particularly focused on the training years:  Student Advocate Association (SAA) and more recently, Intern & Resident Advocate Association (IRAA).  The larger organization is there to help support smaller chapters across the country, whether it may be to share resources, encourage members, or provide financial support for local chapters.  Each year, a new president is inducted into the organization, bringing new or continued focus on specific areas or tasks. 

If you have any questions about AOA or AAOA, please feel free to visit the links throughout the post or leave a comment below.

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Blogger Tif Sweeney said...

Thanks for having me and for sharing the osteopathic love! :)

February 7, 2014 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Megan Walker said...

I recently just learned from my husband there is even a difference between MD and DO. Thank you for sharing! Great explanation.

February 7, 2014 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger thehappyredhead said...

Very informative post! My hubby (pre-med) has applied to both MD and DO schools and sometimes it's difficult to explain the differences to well-meaning friends/family. You included a couple of things that are not only easy to reiterate, but also easy to understand for those not in the medical field.

February 10, 2014 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger Tif Sweeney said...

Megan Walker ... Thank you and you're welcome! :)

thehappyredhead ... I completely understand! We are almost done with our training after 9 years and we still get questions from close friends and family! Good luck to your hubby in applying!!

February 10, 2014 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Kellys Reality said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 12, 2014 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Kellys Reality said...

Yep! Thanks for clearing this up. My husband is a DO as well and I've heard it all from "is he a real doctor" to "what is a DO a chiropractor". Drives me crazy. DO's need love too ;) Good luck with everything!

February 12, 2014 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Tif Sweeney said...

Kellys Reality ... I agree that DO's need love too! Thank you and good luck to you as well!

February 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Tanya Bruner said...

Hey ladies! I feel everyones pain! my significant other is a DO as well. I explained it this way... A DO does everything that an MD does... but DO's Do more ;)

February 20, 2014 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Tif Sweeney said...

Tanya Bruner ... They certainly have more training!! Yay for DO's!! :)

February 20, 2014 at 1:24 PM  

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